The interior of the popular Whale’s Tail beachfront restaurant suffered smoke damage and parts of the roof were left charred after a late-afternoon fire broke out Saturday.
Whale’s Tail is certainly my US Headquarters…because of my schedule I am there every morning at 7 am when I am in the States, watching dolphins play, young surfers trying to catch our miniscule waves and enjoying french toast served by a bevy of Ukrainian waitresses. This is a real blow to my operation!
South Walton Fire District Deputy Chief Sean Hughes said the restaurant and other businesses on Scenic Gulf Drive had been having intermittent problems with power throughout the day. He said the fire was likely “electrical in nature” and that the 10-15 mph winds had fanned the flames.
Around 4:55 p.m., the power came back on after an outage and “the staff noticed that there was some power arcing above the ice machine in the back of the kitchen, and they noticed some flames above the ice machine,” he said.
“They evacuated the building and called 911, and when our units arrived, they saw smoke issuing from the building.”
Dozens of firefighters from South Walton and Destin were at the scene, including two ladder trucks. A fire marshal was en route to the scene to investigate the fire as firefighters sprayed streams of water on a small fire still flickering out from beneath several shingles on the roof. Dozens of spectators watched while several firefighters pulled hoses to the top deck while police secured the scene with yellow tape.
Terry Parker, a Miramar Beach resident, was inside the restaurant when the fire broke out and commented on how long it seemed to take for firefighters to arrive. And once they did arrive, “they had no water pressure.”
“The firefighters had two cooks helping them run the water hoses,” added Chris Pierce, a Santa Rosa Beach resident.
Hughes said the restaurant – a completely wooden structure – has been standing for at least 30 years and weathered both hurricanes and tornadoes. The fact that it had rained for three days prior to the fire, leaving the outside of the wooden structure wet, Parker said, was probably its “saving grace.”